My children are champion complainers. I think all children are. Sometimes it seems like no matter what you do with and for your kids, they can always find something to complain about. And it can make you want to throw your hands up in frustration.
Last night, my youngest daughter had hockey practice -- outside. Now, we don't normally practice outside, but the rink where she plays closed down and some of the other rinks in town offered us ice time. Our team got sent to the outdoor rink in town. The most important piece of information that you need to know about last night is that it was 9 degrees with sub-zero windchills. Oh, and did I mention it was snowing?
I have to tell you that I was in a mood to grumble about the insanity of having practice in those types of conditions, but I bundled her up in as many clothes as I could fit under her pads and off we went. On the way there, we talked about not complaining about the weather. I told her that her coaches knew it was cold and it wasn't going to make it any less cold if she complained about it.
I fully expected her to come off the ice at the end of the hour complaining about how cold she was. She actually came off the ice with a smile on her face and couldn't stop talking about how much fun she had. It was amazing. The only comment she made about the cold was that her toes were tingling. I was so proud of her.
You see, complaining is all about attitude. If we teach our kids to go into a tough situation with a positive attitude and a commitment not to complain, then their attitude is focused on the good stuff -- not the bad. God's not a big fan of complaining either. Philippians 2:14-15 tells us "Do everything without complaining or arguing, so that you may become blameless and pure, children of God without fault in a crooked and depraved generation, in which you shine like stars in the universe."
But it's tough not to complain when something doesn't go our way, especially when you're a kid. Make it a point to teach your kids the value of not complaining.
- Help your kids memorize Philippians 2:14-15. Talk about how not complaining makes them stand out from a crowd. Take them outside on a clear night and look at how bright the stars are. Talk about how when we refrain from complaining about things it makes us stand out like the stars stand out on a clear night.
- Have your kids make stars to hang somewhere in their rooms. Tell them that every time they look at the stars, it should be a reminder to them that God wants us to do everything without grumbling or complaining so that we can shine.
- Examine your own attitude. Your example is the one that your kids will follow. If you tell them not to complain, but then you complain about the things that go wrong during your day, then your kids will follow your example.
- Recognize the difference between complaining and explaining a problem. You don't want to make your kids afraid of bringing their problems to you. You simply want to cut down on the whining.
- Praise your kids when they don't complain about difficult situations. If you know they are going into a tough situation where complaining would be easy, remind them to focus on the good stuff and to refrain from complaining about the bad. When they pull that off, praise them.
Learning to focus on the positive and walk through a tough situation without complaining is a valuable skill for kids to learn. It makes them stand out, but remember that it's not easy. Encourage your kids to ask God for help when they are tempted to whine or complain. God gives us strength to do the tough stuff -- including overcoming the urge to complain.